Why Does My Dog Bark So Much? 7 Proven Ways to Stop Excessive Barking
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What's inside: If you are asking yourself why does my dog bark so much and feel like you are going crazy, these 7 proven ways to stop excessive barking might help.
My sweet pug, Destiny, barked non-stop and it caused total chaos in our home. We couldn’t take phone calls, watch our favorite television shows, or even carry on a conversation longer than 30 seconds because of her non-stop barking.
Having a dog that constantly barks can turn a normally calm house into total frustration, stress, and chaos.
If you have a dog that won’t stop barking and are at your wit’s end, you’re about to learn how to finally stop your dog’s excessive barking so you and your furry friend can live in peace.
What Are We Going To Do About Destiny
My problem was Destiny was terrified of my husband. He didn’t hurt her but she sensed that he didn’t like her and the circumstance under which I made her part of the family caused some problems.
Every time he was anywhere in the house she barked non-stop. It was awful. He could be upstairs and just the echo of his footsteps made her bark.
I think she was afraid of men in general which didn’t help. The two guys I got her from were breeders and while she was purebred (6 months old) I think there was a problem with her back legs so they had no use for her. I’m guessing they didn’t treat her well.
At times the barking got better but it never lasted. I tried a citronella collar but her fear of my husband outweighed the discomfort of having citronella spray steadily in her face while she barked. I swear she would empty an entire load of citronella and not stop barking. My whole house smelled like Lemon Pledge.
I was at my wit’s end and everyone in our house was pulling their hair out with the constant barking.
Before I share what we ended up doing about Destiny, let’s take a look at some other causes of excessive barking with dogs and some tips to stop the barking.
Why Does My Dog Bark So Much?
Every situation is unique and every dog is unique but it helps if you can figure out what’s causing your dog’s non-stop barking. Here are some, but not all, causes of excessive barking:
Protecting Its Territory or Space
Probably the number one cause of the barking is your dog’s innate need to protect his space. It’s totally normal for any dog to be very vocal if the doorbell rings or someone enters your home but once the supposed threat is acknowledged, the barking should stop.
Dogs are naturally territorial so how to stop territorial barking can be a little tricky.
Some dogs are just easily excitable and will start barking excessively at the slightest infusion of excitement. They just want to be heard and be part of whatever the excitement is about.
This barking will usually stop once your dog makes an adjustment to whatever it is that excited him.
This cause of the barking is one I knew all too well. It’s really hard to stop a dog from barking if they are afraid of something. Offering reassurance or trying to separate your dog from whatever is causing the fear typically will help.
Need for Attention
Your dog could simply be barking because he wants attention. This could be a desire to be pet, or fed, or let out to go to the bathroom just to give a few examples.
This barking cause is one of the easier ones to stop because once you satisfy whatever it is your dog wants, he will likely stop barking.
Separation Anxiety, Loneliness, and Boredom
These all kind of go together and can be very stressful for your dog. Dogs get lonely and bored just like we do and they might be letting you know this by barking.
Separation anxiety is a bit more of an issue because if left unaddressed it can lead to destruction, accidents in the house, loss of appetite, and even depression.
Click here to learn more about separation anxiety in my post, Is it Separation Anxiety or Boredom.
Pain Could Cause Excessive Barking
If your dog starts to bark excessively out of nowhere he could be in pain. If you have any reason to suspect this you should seek immediate vet attention.
Body Language Can Help Determine Why Your Dog is Barking
There are many different reasons why dogs bark and learning how to read your dog’s body language might help you not only determine the cause of the barking but could also help finally stop your dog’s excessive barking.
Many times unwanted barking can be avoided by just making simple adjustments in your home and to your routine.
Some body language to watch for:
An excited dog might spin in circles or go up on its hind legs. And his tail might be wagging and his ears may be perked up.
If your dog is just seeking your attention their body language will likely be more relaxed. They might wag their tail but not always and their ears could be down or up. They might paw at you or stand or sit in your way, all indications that they want something.
If your dog is in pain he might cower or flinch when you go to pet him. He could even give a warning growl or air bite to let you know he is anticipating what you’re about to do is going to cause him pain. If you notice this you should seek vet attention.
One of the most important body language signs you should learn to read in regards to barking is related to anxious, fearful dogs. Understanding the warning signs might help prevent a potentially bad situation.
A fearful dog will typically have his head low and his tail between his legs. He might avoid eye contact, lick at his paws or lick the floor. His body will be tense.
These are all potential warning signs on top of the barking that could indicate your dog is not comfortable in his current situation.
With territorial barking, your dog’s body posture may include ears up and tail straight and your dog will be very alert. He will be trying to send a message that he is guarding what he thinks is his and will try to make himself look large and strong. His body will be tense.
How To Stop Out of Control Barking
If you want to stop asking yourself, why does my dog bark so much, here are 7 proven ways to finally stop your dog’s excessive barking.
Never Yell at a Barking Dog
If you yell at your dog while he’s barking he will just think you are joining in. Not only will it probably not stop your dog from barking but it can also make you more frustrated.
It’s much more effective to speak calmly in your normal voice.
Try to Ignore the Barking
This is especially effective if your dog is barking to get your attention. Like with a small child, giving in to the demand will only make it harder to break this unwanted behavior later.
Make sure you praise your dog when they do stop barking. You want to always reinforce the behavior you want and not the behavior you don’t want.
Plenty of Excercise Can Help
Proper exercise and playtime can help minimize barking. It makes sense if your dog is tired or even content he will be less likely to bark, especially for no reason.
Use Simple and Consistent Commands
Yelling at your dog with too many words is not going to stop the barking. Pick a word, like quiet, and be consistent using only this word when you want them to stop barking. Offer praise and even a reward, especially at the beginning, when your dog stops barking.
Provide Your Dog With Stimulating Toys
If your dog is barking due to boredom, loneliness, or anxiety, offering some stimulating playtime might help. There are different types of puzzle toys or thinking games you can play with your dog to help eliminate boredom.
Here is a fun treat/puzzle toy I recommend that can help occupy your pups attention and get a little brain exercise at the same time.
And of course, there are always the classic Kong treat toys that are super durable for those pups that aim to destroy their toys. I have one such dog now.
Side note: If you’re worried about giving your dog too many treats, you can always try putting a little kibble in the toy instead. This works great, especially for dogs that are food motivated.
Getting brain exercise will tire a dog out just like physical exercise which can help eliminate some unwanted barking for no reason.
If you need help coming up with games that will stimulate your dog, relieve anxiety, and create a bonding experience for you and your pup check out Brain Training for Dogs The creator of this program, Adrienne Farricelli, provides a ton of training for just about everything dog related you can imagine including games you can play with your dog.
Stop the Barking Before it Starts
If you know of specific things that cause your dog to start barking try to eliminate those things or situations. Being proactive will help your dog to not be reactive.
For instance, if you have a loud doorbell that makes your dog go crazy maybe you can replace it with a softer doorbell.
If your dog barks every time someone walks by your house maybe there is a way to block your dog’s ability to see outside.
If you know what situations cause your dog to bark removing that stimulus can help eliminate unwanted barking.
Hiring a Professional Dog Trainer
If you’re at your wit’s end and feel like you’ve tried everything and nothing is working you might want to consider hiring a professional dog trainer.
A dog trainer will be able to pinpoint the cause of the unwanted barking and teach you and your pup how to manage it which will help you both enjoy a more peaceful life at home.
If you aren’t ready to hire a professional trainer you can try this amazing online dog training course which addresses excessive barking and how to train your dog to stop.
Click here to check out Brain Training for Dogs.
Did Destiny Stop Barking?
Unfortunately, she did not. Her story is a tough one because she was so afraid and nervous any time my husband was in the house or even if she suspected he was in the house. Her only defense was to bark.
I mentioned earlier that barking from fear is difficult and the only thing you can do is offer reassurance, build confidence to offset the fear or remove or separate whatever is causing the fear.
I even talked to my vet about it and she said it wasn’t fair for me to keep Destiny under those circumstances. Sadly, in my heart, I knew she was right.
One thing I also knew was that Destiny and my husband were never going to live under one roof in peace.
Now I was faced with whether I needed to rehome my dog or rehome my husband.
All kidding aside, my parents “adopted” Destiny and she spent the last 4 years of her life in total peace with two furry, four-legged sisters and two retired humans who couldn’t have loved on her or spoil her more. She never had to be afraid again and I was still able to be part of her life.
While rehoming Destiny was the last resort and I hope it’s not something you have to do, it was the best decision for Destiny.
Enter Biscuit, Another Barking Nightmare And How The Citronella Collar Saved The Day
How the Citronella Collar Helped My Dog Biscuit Stop Barking Excessively
I haven’t mentioned it yet, but I now have a golden retriever, Biscuit, who is a therapy dog who, unfortunately, barks excessively. She is very vocal and because she is a very fragile, timid, sweet pup, I hate reprimanding her.
Like most dog owners, my dogs barking gives me anxiety and I didn’t want to make the problem worse by Biscuit sensing my anxiety.
Biscuit doesn’t necessarily bark for no reason but I’m not entirely sure why she barks excessively. She mostly just barks longer than she should in any given situation such as when I get home or if she hears a noise outside, or sees a dog on T.V.
I found the best thing that worked for me and Biscuit was a bark collar. The one I chose sprays citronella, which is totally safe and smells like lemon. It fits under her chin so it sprays up into her nose or face.
You can buy spray collars that work automatically by sensing the vibration when your dog barks or you can control them with a remote.
The one I use is on a remote and I can either send a beep through the remote or a dose of citronella spray at two different levels. Click here to check out the citronella collar I use and highly recommend.
And don’t forget to order your citronella spray so you always have it on hand.
Biscuit does not like the spray at all and she quickly learned that if she barks excessively while wearing the collar she will get sprayed.
Now all I have to do is put the collar on her if she’s barking too much or if I know she’s about to be in a situation that will cause excessive barking. I don’t even turn it on. She knows what the collar means and she chooses not to bark when wearing it.
Sometimes I just show her the collar and then lay it on the counter and that works too.
I even use the collar and remote when I walk her in case she gets too excited when she sees another dog and barks too much or pulls too hard on her leash. I almost never have to actually use it. Just putting it on her does the trick.
So while the spray collar did not work for Destiny who barked out of fear, it certainly worked miracles for Biscuit, who barks seemingly for no reason.
Ask a Vet If You Suspect a Medical Problem
If you have any suspicions that something medical might be causing your dogs’ excessive barking, seek help from a veterinarian as soon as possible.
One Last Word of Advice
Even though barking can be annoying to us as humans and can turn our normally calm homes into total chaos, we have to remember that this is how dogs communicate.
While you might be asking yourself, why does my dog bark so much for no reason, remember even though we might not know exactly why they are barking, there is almost always a reason.
The last thing you want to do is not allow your dog to ever bark. This could cause unwanted stress and anxiety for your dog or even depression and aggression.
Also, you never want to take away your dog’s ability to give a warning if he’s nervous, uncomfortable, or fearful in any way. A growl or bark could be a stepping stone leading to a potential bite. Removing your dogs’ ability to give this warning will eliminate your time to be proactive and prevent a bite situation.
I hope you got value from this post. Feel free to share it and to leave a comment below with any questions or feedback. And if you have a story to tell about your barking dog, we’d love to hear it.
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